Suzuki Positions Kizashi As Affordable Sports Sedan

Suzuki ad spot

Suzuki's ad push for its mid-sized car, Kizashi, positions the vehicle as a sports sedan, on the road or on snow. The effort, via El Segundo, Calif.-based Siltanen & Partners, has one set of creative elements pitching the all-wheel version as the perfect snow-state vehicle and another set touting the Kizashi as sports sedan for the rest of us.

Gene Brown, VP marketing at Fountain Valley, Calif.-based American Suzuki Automotive Operations, tells Marketing Daily that the effort, comprising TV, print, online, outdoor, radio and social media elements, is Suzuki's most integrated to date. He says the company will succeed in grabbing share of voice for the vehicle through both the depth of integration and through the creative look and feel of the ads.

"The big reason we changed to Siltanen & Partners two years ago was, we knew this launch was coming, and we knew we would have to push this forward in the best possible way," he says, adding that the company will also get on shopping lists with "a really integrated multi-media presence that is not just a one-trick-pony campaign. If you have gobs of money, you can have the launch pivot on big TV buys at the expense of other media, but that's not our formula here," he says.

The campaign also involves a new Facebook application, Suzuki's first, called the Kizashi "Wicked Weather" game, where consumers become virtual Kizashi drivers behind the wheel of the car, avoiding vicious snow people and other obstacles.

Brown says TV spots will run on sports programming in 21 market "clusters," with print focused on enthusiast publications and, potentially, sports books. Online and print elements center on endorsements from automotive reviewers who have given the car kudos. "Press reviews have been great, and we are using lots of accolades in creative in print, and online," says Brown. "And we may do additional creative for dealers that highlight accolades." A headline in one of the endorsement print ads says, "Words don't do it justice, but they're giving it their best shot."

One TV spot shows the car in front of a glowing back drop of lava-like plasma. Voiceover says, "Remember when sleek, finely created performance sedans were just for rich guys with money to burn? Well, those days are officially over." The ad then cuts to the car racing across a desert with a guy and girl in the front seats.

Brown says the target consumer wants a "zestier sedan than is typical for the category. In that context, our target is as likely as not to be cross-shopping a certified pre-owned BMW. It's a sports sedan-minded buyer," he says.

Rob Siltanen, CEO of Siltanen & Partners, says the decision to pit the car as an alternative to higher-end sports sedans came from early blind testing of the vehicle. "In the early stages, we tested Kizashi with consumers by covering the badge and putting it amongst competitors including Audi, and asked people what car they thought it was. A lot of people, a pretty large number actually, thought it was an Audi. We were eliciting that naturally from the car. So we wanted to make sure the imagery was in keeping with premium cars, letting the car be the star."

Brown says the two campaign elements -- the sports sedan message and the push for the AWD version in snow markets -- are expressions of the same idea. "It's about premium performance characteristics. And that story is clearly enhanced by all-wheel drive." He says the take rate for the AWD version of Kizashi is likely to be around 20%, though obviously much higher in snow markets.

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1 comment about "Suzuki Positions Kizashi As Affordable Sports Sedan ".
  1. Dave Woodall from fiorano associates , February 26, 2010 at 6:17 p.m.

    I always thought Suzuki missed the marketing boat on the auto side by not leveraging its motorcycle legacy to craft a performance image (supported with appropriate product) for the brand.

    While Suzuki started down this path in the SUV segment years ago with the original Samurai jeep, they never brought to market a comparable vehicle in the sports/performance car category for the asphalt junkies.

    Instead, the 18-34's riding their sport bikes turn to Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi for their four-wheel fix.

    Meanwhile, Suzuki looks content to follow Hyundai's lead and attack the highest volume, most competitive segment of the market...at the worst possible time with virtually no pre-existing brand equity or reputation.

    Should be an interesting roll-out...